One of, if not the most creative BMX rider in the world, Tim Knoll takes his incredible style of street riding to Berlin. The American rider describes his style as BMX Freestyle; think gymnastics meets BMX. Influenced by acrobatics, his riding takes tricks to a whole new level.
Watch what happens when he takes on the streets of Berlin above and scroll down for more about the rider behind the amazing edit.
When did you start riding?
From ages 10–13 I was jumping curbs and small dirt jumps, but I wasn't a dedicated rider at that point. I became obsessed with flatland when I was 15. I learned my beginner-level tricks from bmxtrix.com, a timeless website that hasn't been updated since 2003. I was consistently motivated during that time, but seeing any type of BMX or skateboarding on TV would trigger the impulse to ride.
Has it always been about biking, or have other sports influenced you?
Before I started riding flatland I was a gymnast from 7–13 [years old] and a diver in high school. I spent a lot of free time flipping around on my family's backyard trampoline as an early adolescent, too. During my riding years I've been really inspired by skateboarding.
How exactly would you describe your riding style?
I refer to what I do simply as BMX freestyle. I've incorporated my gymnastic ability to give my style more of an acrobatic flair. I have my roots in flatland, but for the past several years I've avoided limiting my tricks to a strictly two dimensional surface that is synonymous with conventional flatland riding.
I also intentionally touch the ground during some of my tricks, which isn't allowed in conventional flatland. Back in 2008 I started using different objects within an urban environment, like street riders do, to create new combos and tricks.
Combining flatland-style tricks with the use of any three dimensional object is a vastly unexplored frontier in BMX.
Some of the tricks you do are pretty dangerous, how do you approach trying something for the first time?
When I come up with a trick idea, I simply go out and try it. There's nothing too elaborate about the process. I will say that most ideas work a lot better in the imagination. I don't have access to sophisticated safety equipment, the most I do is wear pads, a helmet and a mouthguard when I feel nervous about trying a new trick.
What's the worse injury you've had out on the BMX?
A couple of shoulder dislocations.
Were there any really special moments for you during the shooting?
There were several special moments. Pulling off each trick that I wasn't able to practice in my hometown was very fulfilling. Working with Andi, Toni, Rutger Pauw and the crew was a terrific experience.
While Rutger and I were shooting some photos one day, Danny MacAskill called him and from there I got to speak to Danny over the phone for the first time – that was special.
I want to motivate anybody to get out and ride BMX, skate, or do whatever. When I was younger, I was motivated by so many pro riders – to be in a similar position where I can motivate or inspire others is a privilege and a tremendous honor.
— Tim Knoll
How did you find Berlin? Did the city and the spots you chose offer any challenges that you don't face back in the United States?
The filmmakers I worked with, Andi and Toni Tillmann, actually suggested Berlin. I was eager to go there because it's a city I've always wanted to visit from a tourist standpoint. After watching Erik Elstran's Berlin edit, where he uses various in-ground trampolines that are scattered throughout the city, I was eager to film that bike/trampoline transfer in my edit.
Andi and Toni live in Munich so they were able to visit Berlin months prior to the shoot to check out the spots I requested, and to scope out other possible locations. They took pictures and measurements of the spots and apparatus in order to give me a good idea of what to expect. I was able to envision trick ideas for each of the spots I found interesting.
What bike did you ride? Did it have to be adapted in any way for your style?
My set-up is a flatland/street hybrid. I ride the longer Terry Adams frame made by Deco, with a Deco street fork and custom bars from London Bikes. I ride a long, non-flatland stem so I can use it as a standing platform when the bike is upside-down. I ride steel pegs on my grinding side and aluminium on the other. I use a freecoaster and both brakes.
Chad DeGroot, Terry Adams, Pat Fisher, all of my family, especially my brother, Phil, who made the music for my YouTube videos and has had faith in me ever since I started riding.